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Accor to operate two new hotels in Darwin, Australia

Travel News Asia 5 March 2003

Accor has signed an agreement with Leeon Consortium Pty Ltd, developers of the Darwin Chinatown project, to operate two new hotels on the site. The hotels are scheduled for completion in the second half of 2004.

The two new hotels - an Ibis hotel (132 rooms) and a Formule 1 hotel (87 rooms) - are part of a AUD$90 million multi-purpose development project that will also include an office tower, a ground floor retail complex with 30 specialty outlets, car park, food court and colourful pedestrian links reflecting a strong Chinese architectural theme.

Chinatown is the most extensive and significant urban development project in Darwin since the rebuilding of the city in the wake of Cyclone Tracy, which devastated the city on Christmas Eve, 1974.

The Chinatown development is expected to create a vibrant and popular precinct attracting international and interstate visitors and local residents alike. Its location in the heart of the city will also make it a  convenient base for business travellers.

Accor already operates five Novotel and Mercure hotels in Darwin, Katherine and Alice Springs. This will be the first time Ibis and Formule 1 launched in the Northern Territory, with the two brands renowned for providing quality, affordable accommodation. Ibis is a 3-star brand with a current network of over 620 hotels in 33 countries, including 10 in Australia. Formule 1 is a two star brand with 300 hotels globally, including 13 in Australia.

Accor Asia Pacific Chairman David Baffsky said that the development of the two hotels represented a major vote of confidence in Northern Territory tourism.

"The Northern Territory plays a crucial role in Australian tourism because it is what excites and attracts so many international visitors to come to Australia," said Mr Baffsky.

"A strong Northern Territory tourism industry is vital to a strong Australian industry. Darwin and the Northern Territory are principal destinations on the itineraries of most visitors to Australia and form a  major part of Australia's tourism promotion overseas. The addition of two new internationally-branded hotels will provide a significant boost to the tourism industry.

"The important aspect of the development is that the two hotels will target the needs of the fastest growing sector of the tourism industry - the economy sector. All research indicates that the strongest area of demand for accommodation is in the mid and economy sectors, but there has been a lack of quality product to meet this demand. Both Ibis and Formule 1 are leaders in the economy sector of the market and will appeal to the domestic and international markets.

"The hotels will also provide additional accommodation for the corporate sector. The Northern Territory's economy has grown rapidly in recent years with developments in mining, oil exploration, agriculture and transport, and Darwin has also become an important export/import hub.

"Establishing the two brands in Darwin also fits well with our strategic expansion plan. Ibis and Formule 1 are present in most of Australia's and New Zealand's major cities and the brands are now beginning expansion in Asia, one of the most important source markets for tourists and business travellers to the Northern Territory.

"We are delighted to be involved with such an exciting and progressive urban regeneration project as the Chinatown project. I congratulate Jason Lee and  Dennis On of the Leeon Consortium for their efforts with the development and we are very pleased that the Northern Territory Government and the Darwin City Council have been so supportive."

The two new hotels will join Accor's Novotel Atrium in Darwin. Accor also operates Mercure Inn Katherine, Mercure Inn Oasis Alice Springs, Mercure Inn Diplomat Alice Springs and Outback Inn Alice Springs (which is currently being upgraded to a Novotel).

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